Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:34)
With the recent drought in California, a day of rain calls for a hike to see just how much water has collected in our nearby waterfalls. Formally dry creek beds respond well to even the smallest watering, and what once ran dry flows freely again. It seems the lack of water makes one all the more grateful for the tiniest flow.
Sitting at the base of one such fall, I watched as sparkling droplets flowed over and into one another, following their destined course. And this thought crossed my mind…
These droplets have no concern for where they’ve been, no concern for where they’re going. They simply follow the flow of the river bed. They take the course set out for them, without worry, without concern. Happily they make their way along. Freely they flow, unhindered.
And my mind drifts to these words of Jesus…
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? (Matthew 6:26-27)
Or these words…
See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry… (Matthew 6:28-31)
It seems that water droplets, lilies of the field, and birds of the air have figured something out that I find all too difficult. Living at rest. Flowing in freedom. Growing in trust. Learning to simply be.
Because my body may be in one place, but my mind often wanders to another. Living under the illusion that I’m in control, my mind races to the past or concerns itself with the future. It’s so difficult just to exist right where I am.
My guess is I’m not the only one. Which may be why Jesus said, “Don’t worry.” Each day has enough challenge, trial, struggle, adventure, and trouble of its own. But each day has something else. It has Someone else. Because He’s the God of the present moment.
The One who was and is and is to come. (Revelation 4:8) He exists in each present moment that ever was or ever will be. And it’s in each present moment that we find Him.
We won’t find Him in our worries about tomorrow, or in our regrets about yesterday. We find Him as we give our yesterday, today, and tomorrow into His hands. In this exact present moment. Right where He is. Right with us.
But remaining in the present with Jesus is difficult. As Brennan Manning once said…
For me the most radical demand of Christian faith lies in summoning the courage to say yes to the present risenness of Jesus Christ.
I’ll never forget my high school physics teacher. He was a guy of the present moment. He wanted the full attention of his students each and every minute, boring as they were.
He’d hook one arm behind his back, writing on the chalkboard with his other hand, periodically wiping chalk dust on his shirt. As he lectured on and on in a monotone drone, all of us had a tendency to forget about the present moment.
Whether we were just day dreaming or enjoying a peaceful slumber, we certainly weren’t thinking about physics. He wouldn’t say a word, at least not about our dreaming. He’d just talk on about objects, forces, energy, and motion, while slyly making his way over to the windows that lined the far side of the classroom.
Did I mention that it was winter in western Pennsylvania? One by one he’d slide each window open. With the immediate chill that filled the air, we soon found our way back to the present moment. He had a funny way of keeping our attention.
Which brings me back to Jesus, the God of each present moment. In some ways He’s a lot like my physics teacher. He vies for our attention in the here and now. Because left to ourselves, we are sure to worry, wander, and concern ourselves with more than we can bear. We tend to take on more than the day’s allotment of worries.
But gazing upon Him, our worries are put in their proper place. Remember His words…
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)
It’s not that our worries aren’t important to Him. Quite the contrary. It’s just that our worries must exist in light of Him. As we look first to Him, our worries are seen through the lens of who He is. The God who is, who was, who is to come.
He’s the One who holds it all together. Our capacity is quite small. We can handle just about what one day holds, on a good day. He holds it all.
All our yesterdays. All our todays. All our tomorrows. All in His capable hands. And so we seek Him first, keep our eyes fixed on Him, find Him in each present moment. Giving us grace for our past, making us brave for our future. All in the light of Him.
As I watched those droplets flow freely, I saw a picture of the words of Jesus. His heart that we need not worry. Because worry keeps us stuck. We’re utterly dammed up in anxiety. Anxieties that are often valid, but are too much to carry. So they anchor us in one place.
As we exist in each present moment with our Lord, we get unstuck. Our worries are cast upon Him. We’re freed up to flow. Surrendering our past to His covering grace, trusting our future to His good heart, we flow forward, following the path marked out for us.
Today, I’m grateful for recent rain that replenishes our waterfalls and fills the narrow pathways of our creek beds. And for tiny water droplets that invite me to flow freely as they do. Oh, for grace to join them.
Still, I can’t help but wonder at the velocity of their motion. There’s gotta be an equation for that. Maybe if I had stayed awake in Physics class…
What About You?
What are the worries and concerns that have you stuck today?
Can you offer them to the God who exists in each of your present moments, trusting Him with your past, present, and future?
You may be familiar with a form of centering prayer practiced by the Quakers called, “Palms Up, Palms Down.” You start by turning your palms down, while praying about all of your concerns, worries, and anxieties, giving it all to God. Name every one, telling the Lord you are giving them to Him. After a bit, turn your palms up, receiving whatever you need from the Lord, such as love, patience, grace, peace. Tell the Lord, “I receive your peace, your love, etc.” about each and every situation you have named. Then, sit a bit in silence with God, allowing Him to meet with you.